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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  March 15, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: japan raced to prevent a radiation catastrophe today as explosions rocked two reactors at a nuclear plant, and government officials urged 140,000 people near the facility to remain inside. good evening. i'm jeffrey brown. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight, we have the latest on the rescue efforts in towns along the coast, even as the nation was hit by another powerful aftershock. and the official death toll topped 3,000, with many more homeless. >> brown: we assess the magnitude of the crisis and what's being done to avert a full nuclear meltdown. >> ifill: and ray suarez examines the economic impact of the disaster, as stock markets plunge in japan and around the
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world. >> brown: plus, paul solman tells the tale of two ohio counties-- once very similar economically, now far apart. >> you could go to a lot of placess around the country and they're living in one high- income reality and a couple counties away it's a whole different world. >> brown: that's all ahead. on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> oil companies have changed my country. >> oil companies can make a difference. >> we have the chance to build the economy. >> create jobs, keep people healthy and improve schools. >> ...and our communities. >> in angola chevron helps train engineers, teachers and farmers; launch child's programs. it's not just good business. >> i'm hopeful about my country's future. >> it's my country's future.
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>> you can't manufacture pride, but pride builds great cars. and you'll find in the people at toyota, all across america. pacific life. and by bnsf railway. and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: japan suffered two major blows today, as a desperate effort continued to head off a nuclear crisis on the heels of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.
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a new explosion rocked a shut- down reactor at a plant that lost its cooling system in friday's disaster. and the u.n. nuclear agency warned a second reactor was failing as well. thousands of people had already been ordered out of a 12-mile exclusion zone around the plant. today, another 140,000 people living 12 to 20 miles away were told to stay indoors, and officials imposed a no-fly zone around the site. we have a series of reports from independent television news, beginning with tom clarke on the growing nuclear scare. >> reporter: seen from space this is the brighted fukushima nuclear plant. in this photo two square reactor buildings remain intact, but explosions since it was taken have left both resembling the smoldering carcasses of their neighbors. confirmation today that the containment around this reactor had been breached. this is a look inside reactor
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number two. engineers are struggling to keep the nuclear fuel rods covered with sea water. that exposes the fuel inside. as it heats up, water turns to steam and pressure builds up. reports suggest that due to that pressure, this structure, called the suppression chamber, cracked. it contains much of the harmful radioactive material given off by the fuel rods. steam mixed with hydrogen gas escaped and then exploded. >> there's the possibility that the chamber that i explained may have been damaged. there is also the possibility of core damage. >> reporter: there wasn't just the explosion at reactor number two. normally submerged spent fuel rods like these filmed at fukushima before the disaster caught fire at the number four reactor site. the fire is now out but it added a major spike in radioactivity around the
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plant. because it damages cells as they grow radiation is most harmful to children and pregnant women. thyroid cancer in children, a particular worry, as radioactive iodine from nuclear reactions can concentrate there. had last night's blast of radiation increase the risk to health? immediately after the explosion of fire the level reported outside the reactors, compare that to the exposure of 20 a year. according to the world health organization exposure to 100 in a year is the minimum level that can lead to cancer. within the exclusion zone, a level of 5 per hour has been recorded. at that point 20 hours of continuous exposure would raise the danger of illness. all these levels have now been falling so continued exposure probably won't happen. >> if you only.... >> reporter: the mandatory evacuation around the plant
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will reduce the risk of harm to the general public. but not to the 50 people now fated as heroes in japan who remain at the plant. radiation releases have at regular intervals forced them to abandon efforts to avert meltdown but in their struggle they will inevitably risk fatal radiation exposure. >> brown: later there was a report of a new fire at the same reactor that had caught fire earlier in the day. also today the u.s. navy moved some of its ships to the western side of japan away from the drift of radiation. and the rising risk of exposure touched off new fears in people still shaken by the quake and tsunami. alex thomson reports from the town of ofunato, up the coast from sendai. >> reporter: every day across the quake zone the cues for food, water and petrol are getting longer and longer. >> we just want to stay away. >> reporter: now fears over radiation mean hurried plans from some to leave town.
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>> let's make a base here. >> reporter: today our business lay to the north. they've just managed to blast away in, bull dozing away the tsunami's wake. a place utterly surrendered to the tsunami. japan's rising sun flag in tatters on this cold sunless day. a force which would pulverize the heavy lift digger somehow leaves intact the sign pointing people to the tsunami shelter. i don't doubt that it was a place of refuge for many during those terrifying moments last friday afternoon. if they survived they can look down now on this industrial
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sector of their town completely ruined by the tsunami. the police here in japan are now saying at least 3,000 people are confirmed to have been killed in this disaster. but of course tens, hundreds of thousands have been shifted out from where they were living. they're now homeless. the weather, well, it's turned again. it's much much colder here today and wet, a significant factor if you no longer have any home to go to. but some good news at last. the people of this city certainly do have a place to go and what a place it is. the town's magnificent undamaged theater. and it's here we find two people. >> for us, we get one bowl of rice for every meal which is okay. we've got enough nappies but he needs baby food. all we've got is hard rice which is difficult for him. >> reporter: how long they'll be here for nobody can
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possibly say right now. the messages imploring loved ones to get in touch. a tourist brochure lying in the rubble here. a happier yesterday to be treasured here where life must pick up and customs be maintained like playing public music every day at 5:00 p.m. sharp. each japanese town has its own tune, and this town's as it happens is "yesterday." ♪ yesterday
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>> ifill: >> ifill: the japanese government today confirmed at least 3,300 people killed in the disaster. 450,000 are living in temporary shelters. and another strong aftershock hit, with a magnitude of 6.4. the epicenter was in central japan, but it could be felt 55 miles away in tokyo. there were also tales of triumph. a 70-year-old woman suffering only hypothermia was found alive. search teams also found a baby and a 20-year-old man alive in the rubble. still, for many survivors, there was little except devastation, and the memory of a horror that hit with little warning. james mates reports from the town of otsuchi, where little is left. >> reporter: we stood amid the silence of otsuchi and looked from horizon to horizon. they were picking over the remains of a town that no longer exists.
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as if earthquake and then tsunami were not enough, no sooner had the water retreated than fire engulfed this town. fueled by kerosene from cooking stoves and the wooden remains of thousands of houses it burnt for two days and left nothing. walking through it now the stench of smoke is still everywhere. on friday morning of last week this was home to 17,000 people. only 5,000 have been accounted for. they're now calling this town "the lost town." very easy to see why. anything the water left behind the fire has completely consumed. there is nothing that tells you how otsuchi once looked. where streets ran, where houses stood, it is a shattering sight. we found a town counselor here clam bering back over the ruins. he had been looking for his home. it's all gone, he told us. then he said with a wry smile it was supposed to be earthquake proof but my family
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is okay. every few minutes the rescue teams were pulling bodies out. four here left for collection. another covered with plastic sheeting and a simple note attached saying where and when it was found. they do their best to give dignity to the dead, but there are simply too many to stand on ceremony. this man is alive today because he was at work elsewhere. he knew why this disaster had been so deadly. "after the earthquake the waves began almost immediately," he told us. "it wasn't only about 15 minutes so there wasn't enough time." (crying) two old friends hug each other as they discovered both have lived through this. a small ray of happiness in what is otherwise uniformly depressing.
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above above them helicopters are trying to douse the flames that are still burning on the hillsides. because the devastation here is not just in the town but for miles up the valley into areas that have never been thought of as being at risk from tsunami. the population was certainly aware of the danger. the sign warns them this is a tsunami inundags area. the trouble is it says the danger area ends right here. in fact the power of this tsunami wave took it for well over a mile further down this valley. it is no surprise to the poor people who live here were caught completely unaware. inevitably their fate is being overshadowed by the fate of the town itself. most of the survivors we met today were bewildered, confused. but how can you take in the fact that you've lost everything you own, many of those you knew, that in a few brutal minutes your future was taken from you? this person spoke for many of them. "i have no idea what's going to happen," he told us.
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and then he said, "the whole town has gone. the town next door is gone. it's as if i'm living in a dream." >> brown: and now to a closer look at the dangerous situation at those nuclear power plants. olli heenonon is a former lead inspector and top official with the international atomic energy agency. he's visit ed the facilities in japan, and is now a senior fellow at harvard's kennedy school. stephanie cooke is editor of "nuclear intelligence weekly," a trade publication that focuses on nuclear energy. she's also the author of "in mortal hands: a cautionary history of the nuclear age." olli, i'll start with you. we team to have had modest progress yesterday and today serious problems. what's your assessment of where things stand tonight? >> i think we are still having serious troubles, but i think at the same time there has been progress in the last two days. but most of the serious problems are still in front of us, like unit number 2 of the
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nuclear power plant. and then the new worry about the drying up of the spent fuel at several reactors. >> brown: even as we're sitting here i was handed a note about a new fire at one of the reactors. explain what's going on inside those reactors... as much as anybody knows, what's going on with the fires and the explosions? >> this latest news is worrying. it's a fire in reactor 4 which had been shut down when the earthquake hit. so i'm not clear what caused that fire. what the implications of it are. but it's not a good sign. earlier there was a fire at the spent fuel pool at reactor 4. most people don't realize that the... when a... that sitting these reactors are big pools full of water which...
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into which are placed used fuel from the reactors periodically. say, every 12 to 18 months. and these pools contain irradiated fuel with radioactive products on the average, say, five to ten times what is inside a reactor core. so if they become uncovered there's a risk of fire from those zirconium clading on the fuel rods. >> brown: this was not something we talked about yesterday. >> no, no. >> brown: this is a new danger that we suddenly realized. >> we knew this danger was on the horizon. clearly the authorities knew it was on the horizon. i'm a little worried because we don't know why... whether this... i'm not quite clear whether this is because of loss of power because they need power to run the cooling systems in these spent fuel pools or whether there was structural integrity from the earthquake damage that caused a rupture in the pool or a combination of both. but the water seems to have come out somehow. >> brown: olli, explain the
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radiation danger as it stands right now. it's not a leak in the way we normally think of things. what is going on and who is at risk? >> i think that the biggest risk for the moment is certainly for people who operate there. you have seen in the last 24 hours that they took a lot of people away and keep only the minimum people who do the job. i think this is a very good practice. and then when they need additional people they can send them in without admitting any high radiation doses. but, yes, the nuclear material there, radioactivity is there. we need to get these reactors cooled down, the cores cooled down so that the worst doesn't happen. the biggest risk at this point in time is unit 2 which has had a long time to fuel exposed to air without any cooling. i understood from japanese tv a few hours ago that it was as long as six hours which means
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that the fuel is quite damaged. if this leads to the meltdown, then the consequences will be serious because in extreme cases it leads to what is called a steam explosion which releases radioactive gases in the atmosphere. then it moves with the winds away. we don't know which direction. but this will be the worst case scenario. at this point in time i don't think we can say that this is going to happen. hopefully not. >> brown: stephanie cook in the meantime first we had the thousands of people ordered to leave. today many more thousands told to stay indoors. does that sound like the right advice? is that enough? what is the thinking there? >> well, the area of the people told to stay indoors i think it was 20 to 30 miles outside the reactor zone. >> brown: i think it was up to 20. 12 to 20. >> yeah. it was sort of... i think it's
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up to 20 that are evacuated. maybe you're right. anyway, there was an extra sort of 10 miles added on for people to stay indoors. it would be a little bit frightened if i were those people because these houses are not going to... no house is airtight. these particles are invisible. they could, you know, i think the danger or the fear that these people will always live with if they stay indoors, even if they stay indoors is, "have i breathed in some awful particle that is lodging in my cell tissue and going to destroy and damage it?" if you're at child-bearing age," is it going to destroy the genetic structure?" it's a scary thing for people like that. i wouldn't want to be told that. >> brown: what would you add to that, olli? we're also hearing people worried about the or wary of the government's credibility at this point in terms of how safe things are. what do you think? >> well, first of all i think
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that the government has troubles here because they have actually several things happening at the same time. all these four or five units have some trouble. certainly all the technical people are now focusing to solve those problems rather than spend time for communication. as a result of that, we have communication gaps. we don't have the... it's very difficult to assess things from outside. i think this is perhaps the biggest problem in this point of time. but we are not alone. we have to remember that there are also a lot of other rescue teams around at this point in time. we see what kind of radiation doses they receive and measure. also, as you know, the u.s. military is around. air force, navy. so i think that the numbers which we will see will be fairly reliable. >> brown: just to say with you, what should happen next and how hard is this to bring in water? they were talking about bringing in water with helicopters?
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what should happen next? >> i think we have here two day'ss to battle. the first is to bring this core down. the helicopters have nothing to do it. this is when they are pumping sea water and try to increase the water level in this damaged unit number two reactor so that the heat can be removed. we don't don't know at this point in time how successful they are because they have not released any number. but at least it seems at this point in time that the temperature is not increasing. there has been no additional release of radioactive material. this other battle with the spent fuel pump is probably somewhat easier. but the important thing is to keep the water levels high up so that, as stephanie said, so that the cooling is there, that we don't get this additional explosion. if these things dry up, then it's a very... difficult because of the high radiation. this may have an impact do the
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other operations to bring the temperatures down. so it's a vitally important that the water is there. pump it. bring with helicopter depending on the case. some of them you cannot bring from helicopter because the roof will block it. they have still a few things to solve. it's also important to get additional pumping capacity, additional electricity. there we have seen in the last couple of days quite a lot of progress. tomorrow will be better. but if the time is of essence here. so i hope that we have enough time to rectify the situation. >> brown: stephanie cooke, briefly. in the meantime several countries around the world are watching this, of course. several countries have already taken some plants off line. is there a review underway worldwide including the u.s. for similarities and differences? >> no, there is not. in fact the obama administration today was basically declaring the safety of all nuclear power plants in the united states and germany
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has decided to basically review all their plants and i think take seven off-line if that number is correct. russia has made noises about it. signed a deal to build a new reactor in belarus. that's basically lip service i think. it's not like a worldwide effort. the thing about accidents to remember is that they all have different sequence of events which cause them. so to complete obsess about earthquakes causing the next accident isn't necessarily the way to do... the key thing is to try to review safety again at all levels. what caused the problem here was that they put these generators in the basement of the reactors and a tsunami came in and wiped them out. they a total failure of back-up power. and who would have thought? niece... these are the things that you can't think of every eventuality but those are the kinds of things that will be challenging the nuclear industry in the days ahead.
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>> brown: stephanie cooke, olli heenona, thank you both very much. >> ifill: coming up, two economic stories: the fallout from the earthquake on businesses and markets in japan and around the world; plus, two ohio counties on opposite sides of the economic divide. but first, with the other news of the day, here's kwame holman. >> holman: the nuclear crisis in japan rippled across europe today. germany closed seven older reactors for three months to consider its nuclear policies. and france ordered safety checks at its 58 reactors. in washington, energy secretary steven chu said it's too soon to say if the u.s. needs to make changes. >> let's first learn about this. are there going to be lessons learned? i'm sure there will be. then we look back at our reactive fleet and we up our game. every night we do this, we march on to ever-increasing safety. that's what we have been doing in the industrial world for hundreds of years.
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>> holman: chu has been an advocate of nuclear power in the u.s. he said he believes americans can have full confidence in this country's safety procedures. the nuclear crisis in japan sent the tokyo stock market plunging by nearly 11%, and the losses rippled all the way to wall street. the dow jones industrial average fell nearly 300 points before coming back some. it ended with a loss of more than 137 points to close at 11,855. the nasdaq fell 33 points to close at 2667. the price of oil also fell sharply to $97 a barrel over fears about japan's economy. libyan forces loyal to moammar qaddafi recaptured two more strategic towns today. they seized control of brega, and pushed into ajdabiyah, using tanks and air strikes against the rebels. it put qaddafi closer still to retaking benghazi, the major city in the east. meanwhile, in paris, the world's major economic powers asked the
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u.n. to authorize aid to the rebels, but the diplomats balked at france's calls for a no-fly zone >> for the moment, i haven't convinced them. france was with great britain leading this initiative. what's the situation today? qaddafi is scoring points. if we had used military force last week to neutralize some airstrips and the several dozen planes that they have, perhaps the reversal taking place to the detriment of the opposition wouldn't have happened. >> holman: in tripoli today, qaddafi said the rebels now have two choices: "surrender or run away." in bahrain, the sunni king declared martial law for the next three months in an effort to rein in shiite protesters. that came a day after more than 1000 troops from saudi arabia and other persian gulf nations entered the country. iran today denounced the intervention as "unacceptable." meanwhile, in yemen, antigovernment tribesmen killed four soldiers overnight near the
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saudi border. earlier, troops there fired on protesters. the u.s. commander in afghanistan reported today that coalition forces have blunted the taliban's drive. general david petraeus went before a senate committee with his first formal assessment since taking command last summer. >> the momentum achieved by the taliban in afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas. however, while the security progress achieved over the past year is significant, it is also fragile and reversible. >> holman: petraeus said the u.s. remains on track to begin drawing down forces this summer, as conditions permit. republican senator john mccain agreed with the accounts of military success, but he warned against a hurried exit. >> we need to be exceedingly cautious about withdrawal of u.s. forces this july as the president has called for. we should be mindful that
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perhaps the wisest course of action in july may be to reinvest troops for more secure to less secure parts of afghanistan where additional forces could have a decisive impact. >> holman: meanwhile, a new public opinion poll by the "washington post" and abc news showed support for the military effort is falling. nearly two-thirds of those questioned said the war no longer is worth fighting. the republican-led house has approved another stopgap measure to keep the federal government open for three more weeks. the bill included $6 billion in additional spending cuts. republicans and democrats jousted over the merits of yet another short-term "continuing resolution," known as a "c.r." >> several weeks ago, we moved a short-term continuing resolution that cut $4 billion. and today we'll pass a resolution for three more weeks, cutting $6 billion. now, this is $10 billion. it's a small down payment on our commitment to the american people that we'd have real
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fiscal responsibility. >> the last c.r. was for two weeks. this is a three-week bill, so i guess the good news is that we're heading in the right direction. but that's about the only good news, mr. speaker. this is no way to run a budget process. it is no way to run a government. it's like water torture-- drip, drip, drip. >> holman: the federal fiscal year began last october first, but congress has yet to agree on long-term funding. this bill is expected to pass in the senate later this week. the last american veteran of world war i, frank buckles, was laid to rest today at arlington national cemetery, outside washington. the flag-draped coffin lay in honor inside the cemetery chapel. hundreds of visitors filed past, and president obama and vice president biden made an unscheduled stop to pay their respects. buckles died last month at his home in charlestown, west virginia. he was 110 years old. those are some of the day's
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major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we turn to another impact of the disaster in japan: the economic consequences there and around the world. ray suarez has that story. >> suarez: global markets plunged today following the reports of new explosions and a larger radiation release. the shutdown of plants has led to rolling blackouts throughout the country, and that in turn has caused auto manufacturers and electronics factories to shutter nationwide. some of those factories affect the supply pipeline for key goods around the world. greg ip of the "economist" magazine joins us to discuss what's behind some of the fear and reactions. the reaction that there has been the largest two-day sell- off in more than 20 years. the major japanese stock index. then other markets, as the sun came up, started to follow suit. why? >> the last few days initially the reaction of foreign markets to the disaster in japan was this would be containable.
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the negative effects would mostly be in japan. as we saw with the earthquake in the mid 1990s they would be transitory. this morning they woke up to the news that maybe this is magnitudes worse than anything they've seen before not just an earthquake but a nuclear disaster. the damage to the economy not just in japan but the world is proportionate to how bad the disaster is. the further the radiation spreads the longer the disruption lasts the more damage to the infrastructure and supply chains. investors are trying to struggle with pricing that into the future for the economy. now as the day wore on, they got news that maybe the disaster was going to be contained after all until... and markets rallied somewhat. >> suarez: around midday the american stock indices began to claw back most of their opening losses. so can we look at this as a transitional thing, just until markets figure out just how bad off japan is? >> not yet, i don't think. i mean, remember the disaster has already turned out to be worse than we thought just on
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friday morning when the first news came out. the reason investors are taking it so hard is because they just don't know how to quantify their risk. i mean, how many people have to be evacuated? how far will the radiation spread? how long will the disruptions last? the natural reaction when faced with that kind of uncertainty not just for investors but businessmen and households is i'm not going to take risks and make big investments now. >> suarez: apart from risk and speculation and pricing future events there's practical nuts-and-bolts effects in japan. it's bun of the world's largest suppliers of flash memory, of semi-conductors. how does this affect far-flung factories? far, far away from japan and its problems? >> you know, even though it was a big news event when china surpassed japan as the world's second largest economy japan is still the third largest economy in the world. the key supplier for a lot of key technologies like flash memory which goes into like cell phones and smart phones, silicon waivers that are used
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to make chips and so for, in many cases jp and is the key supplier for a lot of manufacturers including here in north america. you've seen companies announce shutdowns of automotive assembly lines because they're unsure of the supply of parts from japan. now they have inventories of these parts. it may be that if this disruption only lasts a few weeks we won't see anything serious. we don't know how long this disruption will last. we have been reminded that notwithstanding the difficulty japan has gone through in the last two decades they're still a vital supplier in many key industries. >> suarez: one thing that makes them unique among the world's industrial power s is that they have almost no natural resources of their own. are they peculiarly exposed, uniquely exposed in the energy sector? >> one of the reasons japan depends on heavily on nuclear power is because of the national policy of trying to get too dependent on fossil fuels. one of the big question marks over not just the japanese but
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the world economy now is does this disaster seriously impair the employment of nuclear power which many people hoped would take up the slack. the possible result is that if japan has to go without as much nuclear power as it has had in the past it will need more fossil fuels and could add to the upward pressure on the price of world which has been a problem that the american economy has already been struggling with. >> suarez: when the ground started to shake we were already seeing oil north of $100 a barrel. could japan's problems end up slowing down the recovery for the entire world economy? >> it certainly could. certainly through this impact of creating more uncertainty. if you think about it, it's one things to have these problems in japan. we're having all the unrest in the middle east which has put upwards pressure on the price of oil and still have problems in europe where they have not solved the debt problems of countries like greece and portugal. when the debt crisis first erupted it richocheted as
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investors tried to comprehend what does it mean for the american economy? you saw a slowdown because of this uncertainty effect. we're dealing with a triple whammie of all those things. at this point that probably doesn't stop the momentum of the recovery but it lasts for some more weeks all bets are off. >> suarez: what about japan itself? after the earthquake in 1995 even in the midst of its own economic problems, slug irgrowth, really difficult indebtedness problems they managed to rebuild a major japanese city quickly, beautifully and now we're looking at something much larger perhaps but can they afford it? >> one of the remarkable things is how humanity does recover from these disaster often with more resilience and speed than you think. 9/11 in our case is an example. partly because of the application of enormous, you know, effort by policy makers such as central banks and governments who pour money
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into reconstruction. i mean rebuilding from world war ii was a much bigger task for japan and they accomplished it. as you say japan does this problem. they're heavily indebted. their debt is something like two-and-a-half times the national gapd one of the most indebted countries in the rich world. there are concerns if they have to borrow more to finance the reconstruction it will strain the country's ability to stay solvent. personally i'm not too worried about that at the moment. the bank of japan has the means to finance plenty of borrowing. the japanese are very, very high safers. it's conceiveable if done right a really vigorously financed executed reconstruction scheme could actually in the end prove to be a big boost to japanese economic growth. >> suarez: greg ip of the economist, thanks a lot. >> thank you. >> ifill: this is pledge week on public television. we'll be back shortly with the story of boom and bust in two ohio counties. this break allows your public television station to ask for your support.
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>> brown: finally tonight, what's behind the growing economic divide in america? economics correspondent paul solman recently traveled to central ohio to look for some answers. his story was done in collaboration with the "atlantic" magazine, which
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examined the subject of income inequality this month in an article by dante chinni, director of our patchwork nation project. >> reporter: in crawford county, ohio, a factory where they still make copper settles the old-fashioned way. >> every time you hammer it, it will make a little bright spot and harden the doner. >> reporter: that's what all those little dents in hand made copper.... >> that's the hardening of the copper. >> reporter: the founders great granddaughter still runs the place. when did this company start. >> 1857. we think we're pretty special here because we're the oldest. and i'm probably the oldest boss. >> reporter: how old are you? >> well, i'm 93, 94. 95. i'm 95. i'll be 96. (laughing) i have to count back. to see how old i really am. >> reporter: she was born in the days depicted in through mural in crawford's county
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seat when it was a cross roads between an agricultural past and industrial future. just a few miles south, this is delaware county. in 1980, incomes there were roughly the same as in crawford. today delaware tops crawford almost two to one. this then is the tale of two counties that went different ways. the decline of the factory worker and the rise of the internet coder. that's what you're seeing here. >> reporter: dante chinni runs patchwork nation, a project that studies american demographics. and what may be the three most important factors in a community's prosperity. location, location, location. >> the u.s. economy we think of it as one big thing and it is one big thing with national numbers but so much still goes on at the microlevel. you could go to a lot of place around the country and they're living in one high income reality and just a little, you know, a couple counties away it's a whole different world. >> reporter: crawford county has been in post industrial decline for decades. not so delaware county.
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it never had to choose between farm and factory. thanks to the nearby city of columbus which as luck would have it became ohio's capital simply because it was smack dab in the middle of the state. >> later the ohio state university is founded in columbus. >> reporter: geeing on rafer richard fuchs. >> banking, finance, education, state government were the major employers. >> reporter: now industrial crawford did prosper for most of the 20th century. some small manufacturing firms are still hanging in there. tina, born here, grew up in nearby where these a high school guidance counselor. she recalls in the 1970s. >> there were a lot of white collar jobs but a lot of parents also worked in the factories and made very good livings as blue collar workers as well. >> reporter: just 30 years later, this town is more ghost town than boomtown. the plants that supported it long gone.
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>> this was peabody. it was one of the world's largest manufacturers of garbage trucks. >> reporter: several hundred people used to work here says this lawyer thomas palmer including his father who helped design the rear loader still in use today. the plant closed for good in 2003. and that's the familiar galleon ring, familiar that is to those who remember this phone made by north electric, a telecom pioneer.when i was a young boy the north electric company employed 2,000 to 2500 people here in galeon. they moved to tennessee, florida and then to mexico. >> reporter: as crawford county bled jobs to manufacturing, delaware county added them in high-end services. >> economic change is not just changes in finance or changes in employment. it is place based. places like crawford county are negatively impacted and places like columbus are favored because of the economic base of that community at the time of the change.
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>> reporter: so what is this place? >> this build ing is the mccoy center of jap morgan chase. >> reporter: with 10,000 workers, this is chase's largest as if ill. it has helped make delaware ohio's fastest-growing county with cities like powell. home to the accoutrements of the upper middle class and workers like richard. >> the people who live in this neighborhood are doctors and engineers and lawyers and computer scientists, well educated, well trained. >> reporter: powell's median household income: $126,000 a year. nearly triple the income in nearby crawford. >> at one time our per capita income was higher than the national average. >> reporter: dave williamson has one of the tougher jobs in this part of ohio, head of economic development for crawford county. >> right now we're 70% of the national average in per capita income. if this county of 43,000 people could just be average
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in per capita income, that would be an additional half a billion dollars a year of wealth in this county. >> reporter: so you're just looking to be average. >> just to be average. nobody wants to be average. >> reporter: but jobs and people have deserted the sinking city. >> the graduating class used to have about 280 kids in them. this year we have 124. >> reporter: short of a miracle here, the most likely to succeed are most likely to move on. like these college bound kids at galleon high. >> i would never choose it as a long-term career for myself. >> reporter: why not? >> it's definitely an insecure industry. >> i probably wouldn't want to work here. a bigger city would be where i would start and settle down and have a job. >> reporter: but these kids have another reason to want a change of scene. >> i've seen drugs everywhere. like everyone... everywhere i go i see someone messed up on something. >> reporter: on drugs like methamphetamine. during our visit traffic was snarled for hours when cops stopped a suspected mobile meth lab.
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but the current drug of choice? >> we see here amazing to me a fair amount of heroin addiction also. >> reporter: family doctor mike johnson is also county coroner. >> we've had a number of heroin overdose deaths in the the last five, six years which is the first years i was a coroner we just didn't see any of that. >> reporter: heroin? >> yes. >> i didn't even know it was in the area until my son told me that he was addicted to it. >> reporter: mary jean put her son in faith-based rehab and founded a local support group. >> heroin is a huge problem in this community. crawford county is third in ohio for unintentional drug overdose deaths. we have gone from 7th to 5th to third in just a matter of a year-and-a-half. >> reporter: by contrast, delaware ranks 65th in overdose deaths among ohio's 88 counties. and as the heroin habit has grown in crawford so has crime. sheriff ronnie shawberg.
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>> there was a time three years ago, four years ago that we didn't have the amount of scrap, for instance, that was stolen where they'll come in and cut live power lines down. >> reporter: live power lines? somebody is going to cut a live power line for the scrap? >> you're talking thousands of dollars they can do in a night. taking power lines down and taking the raw copper and then telling it. >> reporter: like so much around here, pretty depressing. >> if your surroundings are bleak it just doesn't really give you a whole lot of enthusiasm about what the future may hold. >> reporter: indeed since dr. johnson depression is rampant in his crawford county practice. >> depression and suicide. those things are definitely increased over the past, i would say, five years. >> they have less health. they have more violence. they have more drug problems. >> reporter: co-author of a british best seller on inequality, epidemiologist
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richard wilkinson says it's not so much poverty is to blame. he says hundreds of studies link problems like crawford's to relative pry vacation. when the have's abut the have- less who feel worse and worse about it. >> people trust each other less. social cohesion is weaker. mental illness is worse. a whole lot of these problems typically the ones that tend to be more common at the bottom of society get to us in unequal societies not just a little bit worse not 10 or 20% worse. they're twice as common or ten times more common. hugely much worse in unequal societies. >> reporter: in unequal societies like north central ohio and america as a whole. patchwork nation's dante chinnni ends with what might be the moral of the story of two counties. >> it's not that galeon could have said we'll build an ohio state university too or we will also become the state capital. it won't happen.
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what you have is this economy has evolved around really kind of happenstance, right? >> reporter: and if that's right, what do you do with the bad luck of being born at the wrong time in the wrong place? >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. japan struggled to stave off a nuclear disaster after a new radiation leak from a plant damaged in friday's earthquake and tsunami. amid the nuclear scare, japanese officials warned 140,000 people near the plant to stay indoors. the japanese stock market fell sharply, and took other markets with it. the dow jones industrials average was down 137 points. and libyan government forces said they captured two more towns in their drive toward the rebel seat of power in benghazi. and to kwame holman for what's on the newshour online. kwame? >> holman: you can pose questions about income disparity in the u.s. paul and dante are hosting a
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live chat at 3:00 p.m. eastern on thursday. submit your questions on the rundown blog. read more about the health dangers of radiation exposure, and see satellite images taken before and after the disaster, plus our politics beat examines a brewing political battle in mississippi over a bill on immigration enforcement. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. jeff? >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at: nasa's first-ever mission to orbit the planet mercury. i'm jeffrey brown. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> you can't manufacture pride, but pride builds great cars. and you'll find in the people at toyota, all across america.
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>> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's going to work an a big scale. only, i think it's going to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now. >> and by bnsf railway. >> pacific life-- the power to help you succeed. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations.
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and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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